Clyde Wilson Memorial Park to undergo restoration, preserve rustic feel

Saturday, October 30, 2010 | 6:22 p.m. CDT; updated 12:38 p.m. CDT, Thursday, November 4, 2010
Columbia residents looked at a plan Tuesday to restore Clyde Wilson Memorial Park in the East Campus area. The Parks and Recreation Department outlined several areas of need, including making a portion of the park’s trail accessible to Rollins Street. Benches, bridges and other portions of the trail are also in need of repair.

COLUMBIA — One of the city's historic parks is going to get a much-needed face-lift.

Restoration work on the recently renamed Clyde Wilson Memorial Park (formerly Rockhill Park) in East Campus is tentatively scheduled to begin in January 2011.

The Parks and Recreation Department presented a comprehensive restoration plan to the public on Tuesday evening. The plan concentrates on improving existing trails, repairing old bridges and restoring memorial benches.

East Campus residents were keen to maintain an "if it's not broke, don't fix it" approach. Instead they wanted a plan that focused on improving the existing features of the park rather than major reconstruction.

"(The park) is a priceless jewel for the city as well as the neighborhood," Bonnie Bourne, president of the East Campus Neighborhood Association, said.

"It's what the neighborhood wants — to preserve the park's rustic nature," Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe said.

The budget for the project is $35,000. Tony Lowery, senior parks planner with the department, said additional funds could be added if Proposition 1, the park sales tax, is passed.

Lowery said a majority of the funds would go toward the replacement of the bridges, most of which were built by hand 25 years ago. The rest would go toward trail re-routing and the installation of new benches.

The trail work is divided into three parts based on the level of repair required:

  • Major reconstruction areas includes the entrance on Rockhill Road, the trail near Wilson Avenue and the trail on Rollins Street.
  • Moderate maintenance areas, which will involve removing rocks and roots and correcting water trails.
  • The rest are trails that need routine maintenance.

The trail that requires the most work is the one accessible from Rollins Street. This lies on MU property. Lowery said the department has obtained permission from the university to access this entrance.

'The current trail is a goat-path, it's a mess," Lowery said. "If you go down there, you'll see why people don't use it."

At the meeting, Lowery mentioned some issues associated with the plan that need to be worked out.

"All the waterways that populate the park are considered U.S. waters," he said.

He added that the department is waiting for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' consent before bridge replacement can proceed.

Hoppe brought up a resident's suggestion about dedicating memorial benches only to neighborhood people. Requests are taken by the department from anyone who asks.

"I honestly don't know if we can hold back benches for only the people of this area, but I would encourage them to send their requests in now," Lowery said.

The restoration plan was developed in late summer, after the department met with the neighborhood association.

The residents who attended the meeting seemed to approve of the plan.

For Robin Remington, a long-time resident of East Campus, the most important thing is to "achieve the feng shui" of the park.

"Overall, I'm pleased with the plan," Remington said. "But I'm always nervous when we talk about heavy equipment in the park."

The department is taking public suggestions before making a recommendation to the City Council.

The trail work is tentatively scheduled to begin in January 2011, while bridge repair will be done next summer.

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